Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) like Akamai are the current way to deliver large amounts of content over the internet.  If you have a lot of bandwidth that’s going to be consumed, you’ll probably look to a CDN to help you.   For example, when BMW launched those cool online films a few years back, they used Akamai to stream the movies.  You’re talking massive bandwidth here — in BMW’s case, they had something like 200 terabytes of data viewed through Akamai.

But it’s the classic client/server model. 

The p2ps can change all that, which is one reason I’m so concerned about things like the Grokster ruling. We need innovation here, not fear, especially where you are looking at an internet with increasingly massive propagation of rich media.

Media analyst Phil Leigh just did an interview with the CEO of Kontiki, is a legitimate p2p delivery network. From Phil:

As Digital Media becomes increasingly central to the Internet, the economics of content delivery will become ever-more important. Conventional content delivery networks, like those provided by Akamai, have done a good job to date. In point of fact, Akamai is supposed to be mathematically the optimal solution available within the framework of a client/server architecture. However, Peer-to-Peer distribution may actually be a fundamentally superior architecture relative to client/server, especially in terms of the economics of content delivery.

Although Shawn Fanning’s Napster made “P2P” become a controversial term owing to the alleged abuses of copyright infringement, it is often overlooked that one of the reasons that it was successful was because of superior economics. In point of fact, it was so economical that a college student (Fanning) was able to launch a paradigm shifting phenomenon from his college dorm room.

Essentially a P2P network utilizes the existing storage and bandwidth of the community members themselves to both store and transfer the files. Therefore, there is no centralized storage cost and no need for extremely (meaning costly) broadband pipes to a group of central servers.      

You can listen to the interview here.  

Alex Eckelberry